Are You a Patient?

James Altucher posted some thoughts on civilian life this morning:

I was a civilian for a long time.

 

I worked in my cubicle, hoping to get a raise … a promotion. Sometimes the cubicle changed and it would be a new title, new company, new “friends”, new employee handbook. New boss to choose whether I flourished or suffered.

 

Sometimes the boss would look at me: his eyes over his glasses, like I was the worst interruption he had ever suffered. Sometimes he’d laugh at my jokes and I’d feel happy. Sometimes he’d praise me and I’d call home and tell my parents about it.

 

It wasn’t that he was bad. It wasn’t even I was so pathetic (I was though). But that’s civilian life. I was a civilian. Not aware of the bigger world out there. Not aware I could survive in it.

 

We have two zones: the comfort zone and the Other zone. Civilians live in the comfort zone.

I’ve been thinking on the line between civilian life and, well, I don’t know what to call the other life yet because I’m not yet there. Not on a day-to-day basis, at least.

I’m definitely still a cubicle civilian, although I have the luxury (?) of an office with a window to the glorious Pacific Northwest. Sometimes the chains are gilded, yo.

But where I’m decidedly NOT a civilian is my health. This past year has been a process of breaking the chains, escaping the rat-race of Western medicine, and learning how to fly free.

I want to try an experiment.

Let’s replace “civilian” with “patient.”

ARE YOU A PATIENT?

 

I was a patient for a long time.

 

I went to the doctor, hoping to get better health … a cure. Sometimes the doctor changed and it would be a new drug, new insurance, new “goals”, new clinical approach. New doctor to choose whether I flourished or suffered.

 

Sometimes the doctor would look at me: his eyes over his glasses, like I was the worst interruption he had ever suffered. Sometimes he’d laugh at my jokes and I’d feel happy. Sometimes he’d praise my compliance and I’d call home and tell my parents about it.

 

It wasn’t that he was bad. It wasn’t even I was so pathetic (I was though). But that’s patient life. I was a patient. Not aware of the bigger world out there. Not aware I could survive in it.

 

We have two zones: the comfort zone and the Other zone. Patients live in the comfort zone.

Just like civilians, patients look to our doctors for the final word. If we’re good, and compliant, maybe we’ll have a chance at getting better. We’ll “admit” that we have a fever, or “deny” that we are allergic to medications.

We’ll receive infusions of weapons-grade immunosuppressants every eight weeks, dutifully billing insurance and denying ourselves a health savings account to qualify for subsidization by the same big pharma company that makes the drug.

Welfare, healthcare-style.

The drugs work, that’s for sure. But there’s a dark side to having no immune system. Inflammation built up. Infections wouldn’t heal. That nagging feeling at the back of my mind that kept saying something isn’t right.

But because I wasn’t yet at a crisis point, my doctors wouldn’t do anything about it. Maybe we would push the treatment out to 9, 10, 11 weeks, but that was it.

I was surviving, but I wasn’t flourishing.

My Western doctors were good people, don’t get me wrong. But they had their own perspective. They didn’t see my life, the little things that worried me every day.

No doctor cares more about me than I do. No doctor lives my life.

Eventually, I gathered my courage and made the decision to take control of my health. To make decisions myself, instead of letting my doctor make them for me. To make decisions that could have major consequences to my health, life, and finances.

Taking charge was scary, I can’t lie. The responsibility now lies with me, not with my doctor or my insurance plan’s rules. It’s me who makes the decisions. It’s me who has to follow through with the decisions I make.

I made the decision to walk away from the comfort zone of my health-cubicle.

I’m not a civilian anymore.

Not a patient.

I’m in charge.

Are you?

 

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